Middle School Newsletter

Northland Innovation Center

SAGE Center Mission

As the heart of the gifted community, the mission of the SAGE Center is to ensure all students, as members of a global society, foster their uniqueness, develop their potential, and embrace their true belonging through learning experiences distinguished by:

*Courageous exploration and discovery of passions in a flexible and innovative environment

*Support systems for students, staff, and community

*Ownership and self-regulation in a student-driven culture

Programs Goals

  • To provide curricula that focuses on more elaborate, complex, and in-depth study of major ideas, key concepts and themes that integrate knowledge within and across disciplines and encourages the use of higher-level thinking skills.

  • To provide curricula that sets high standards and that demands rigorous expectations for student work and performance demonstration.

  • To provide instruction that allows for the development and application of productive thinking skills and enables students to re-conceptualize existing knowledge and/or generate new understandings that deal with real-life problems and issues.

  • To provide instruction that is flexibly paced and matched to the student’s ability, pre- assessment data, learning style, interest, and motivation.

  • To provide opportunities for students to develop leadership and group interaction skills that allows student-centered discussion and Socratic questioning.

  • To require project based learning of gifted students that represents application, analysis, and synthesis of knowledge.

  • To encourage an environment that fosters a positive attitude toward creative challenges, investigative activity, and knowledge creation.

Something We Gleaned from Our GAM Conference

Our gifted students sometimes equate being smart with being able to do things quickly and easily, as that is often how things start out for them. When things become challenging then they think they are not smart or don’t belong in SAGE because the tasks are not “quick and easy”. Talk with your child about why that is not true and that they need to understand that struggling and facing challenges equals learning, not unintelligence.

What We Are Learning


During our IQ and Ignite times, teachers and students have been addressing the affective needs of gifted. Examinations of what it means to be gifted, and how perfectionism affects gifted students, have been topics of discussion this quarter. During our Ignite time, students have been working on being good citizens and leaders by choosing a service learning project for an area they are passionate about and researching to find ways they can support an area of need.

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New this year: GUILDS (Gifted Unique Individuals Learning Diverse Skills) are designed to put affective strategies into practice under teacher facilitation. GUILDS are student selected and lead. Each week students meet together and write their agenda/goals for the day. Students work on being considerate of others and their points of view. They also set out to complete their tasks and take initiative to positively influence others. Teachers supervise the group and only step in to help remind and reinforce affective strategies. So far this year, students are just getting started working towards their big goal for the year. Ask your child what they are studying in their GUILDS.

Laser Cutting

In laser cutting and etching, students are finishing etching wooden notebook covers. When creating notebook covers, students are learning how to use layers and why they are important to utilize when designing in Adobe Illustrator. First, students imported a photo of their choosing. Next students used the paintbrush to trace an outline of their photo. When students hid the photo in layers, they are able to see their newly traced design.

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In Arduinos students have been working on adding Potentiometer to their projects. Potentiometer allow lights to be dimmed. The project challenge is to get a row of lights to dim and brighten in a different order than the original code. Students are using critical thinking skills to accomplish the challenges. Students also learned how to draw Schematic diagrams for their projects. Schematic diagrams are one way of communicating how to set up an Arduino Board.

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Digital Communication

Digital Communication students are continuing to edit and expand their video projects, adding on screen graphics and voiceovers. The advanced students are also working on podcasts, featuring a variety of topics. The 6th grade students are completing camera angle photo essays and exploring how different types of visual frameworks can be used to tell a story.

Future Cities

Future Cities students are continuing to work on their digital simulation cities. The city designs are growing more complex as the population increases and the students must balance taxation, budgeting, and public service demands as they personalize their designs. They have selected two virtual goals from about a dozen choices. They are customizing their cities to meet their goals. For example, some students are creating green, healthy cites, while others are working towards high mayor approval ratings and large economic growth.
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Future Cities students were excited to get advice about their projects from Bob Bennett, Chief Innovation Officer for Kansas City. He spoke to them about city planning and management, and KC’s innovative Smart Cities program.

Graphic Design

Graphic Design students have been learning the tools and effects in Adobe Illustrator to recreate a summer flat design. Their next goal is to use those skills that they have learned about Illustrator to create their own flat design, utilizing the basic elements and principles of graphic design in their final image.
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Photography students have had the opportunity to use the DSLR cameras, go outside and take pictures, and take pictures around the Innovation Center. They are then putting their images in the computer and learning how to use PhotoShop to enhance or manipulate their images. Their next goal is to learn how to use composition techniques with their images.

Kitchen Chemistry

Kitchen Chemistry students have been very busy finishing the Chemistry of Baking and exploring Sugary Science. Within the baking unit, students continued to master the concept of chemical reactions between acids and bases in cooking, as well as studying the use and effect of leavening agents by making muffins from scratch using 5 different recipes.

In Sugary Science, students again looked at chemical reactions and learned the precision of cooking with sugar by making volcano candy. They have also compared sugars and sweeteners, and have delved into artificial flavors by creating “mock applesauce” using Ritz crackers.

SAGE Startup

SAGE Startup businesses are in full swing. Students have chosen their product, conducted customer feedback interviews, applied for and been assigned jobs, and are busy creating. Students will be hosting market days where they will be selling their products soon, be on the lookout for more information. It would be great to ask your student about the name of their business, the product they are creating, and what is their job title.

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Interior Design

Interior Design students have learned about the basic design principles and now are beginning to work on their final projects. Students have been asked by some district leaders to design a space on the third floor of our building. Their clients are meeting with them soon to share specifications and students will create a new design to present to them. Included in their designs will be floor plans that are scaled correctly, a 3D digital model, a finish board, and hand renderings. Please ask your student about their “vision” for the space.

**If your student would like to improve and practice their digital skills at home, there is a free version of Chief Architect available online to download.

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Textile Studio

Students in Textile Studio have been working on understanding and applying many concepts such as seam allowance, pressing vs. ironing, and seam finishing. In this self-paced unit of study, many have earned enough badges that they are ready for the design portion of this class. Students will be designing their own upcycled textile work in addition to their own open-ended design project, featuring the skills they have acquired in Textile Studio. Self-evaluations are the final step for any project in this unit of study, as well as a teacher evaluation. The most exciting thing happening in Textile Studio is the growing level of independence the students are showing in their work, and their ability to solve problems as they arise. These attributes will lead to confidence in their work and the ability to approach new textile projects.

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Biomedical Engineering

Students in Biomedical Engineering have been working to earn their cardiologist and pulmonologist badges this month. In order to explain the function and movement of the cardiovascular system, students had to design a skit showing the path a molecule of blood takes as it moves through the human body. They also constructed a tool to “clear a path to the heart,” using simulated clear and blocked arteries (pvc pipes blocked with Play-Doh). To determine effectiveness of their tool, the goal was to decrease the amount of time it took to empty two liters of water through their blocked artery after performing a simulated angioplasty or stenting procedure. Students earning their pulmonologist badge described the function and parts of the respiratory system, designed and built a face mask pollution filter, and accurately performed a peak-flow test.

Forensic Science

Forensic Science students have been learning about ballistics and anthropology this month. In our Ballistic Lab student took measurements and used right angle trigonometry to gather information to help solve the crime. In our Forensic Anthropology Lab students were tasked to help collect evidence for the case by using tools to identify the remains using knowledge of osteology and the various differences that occur within the human skeleton.

First Lego League

FLL teams have been very busy working towards their goals for the Northland Innovation Center First Lego League Pre-Qualifier Tournament. Students continue to design their own solution to a current scientific question or problem and build autonomous LEGO robots that perform a series of missions.

2018-2019 FLL Challenge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY1Z9kK71jQ
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First Tech Challenge

First Tech Challenge is a continuous-improvement engineering model designed as a sport. Middle School Northland Innovation teams are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams.

2018-2019 FTC Challenge https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=6&v=rR4gR4l2XA8
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To continue to be innovative and above the curve we are using a badging system with our Middle School curriculum.

How do badges benefit SAGE students?
In addition to motivating students to develop specific skills and competencies, both individually and collectively, badges offer the following benefits to students:

  • Enhance CANVAS assignments by providing evidence of a completed task and knowledge gained through the completion of that task and or assessment.
  • Focus learning on specific goals, which can lead to improved quality of work as students revise and resubmit their work through an open badging system.
  • Provide a supportive environment in which students’ learning emphasizes and encourages an action-oriented understanding of course objectives.
  • Foster deeper learning of course material, as the badges are content driven, specific to the course goals and content.
  • Creates a positive environment and holds kids accountable to a professional standard in behavior.
  • Create practical ways for students to learn in the classroom and to share what they have learned in our SAGE progress reports.
  • Add an element of fun to the classroom in a gamification type of platform.

Parent ED Camp

Please join us for Parent Ed Camp on November 14th at the SAGE Center from 6 p.m. - 7:15 p.m.

You will be able to meet with other parents as you discuss topics and resources that impact you and your gifted child(ren). Limited childcare will be provided by our Middle School SAGE students for kids ages 5 and up.

Please RSVP to the event so we can know how many parents to expect. We will then reach out to see if you will be using childcare services so that we can ensure enough coverage. If you can attend, please register no later than November 1st by clicking on this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nkc-sage-parents-ed-camp-tickets-51308280448

We would love your input! In an effort to determine topics that our SAGE parents would most like to learn about or discuss at the Parent Ed Camp, please click on this link and share your ideas in this very brief survey.

Thank you for registering and sharing your ideas using the links provided above.

We'll see you there!


Middle School SAGE Team

Shon Adamson

Robotics and Forensic Science



Melissa Duffett

Kitchen Chemistry


Jennifer Koch

Graphic Design & Photography



Cassandra Shaffer

Fab Lab & Arduino Programming and Coding



Lara Owsley

Broadcasting & Future Cities



Cassie Fogel

Robotics & Forensic Science



Wendy Rust

Biomedical Engineering and Textile Studio



Melissa Torres

SAGE Start Up & Interior Design